Even the biggest of fish are finding the waters too choppy on Wall Street. As the Dow swings about wildly—it fell 247 points yesterday, and has moved at least 1% in 14 of its past 19 sessions—so too are individual stocks. It’s become nigh-impossible to buy or sell anything at anywhere near its advertised price, traders tell the Wall Street Journal, because volume is so low than any attempt to buy or sell sends prices spinning.
The problem is that many market participants are sitting on the sidelines thanks to global economic uncertainty. “That’s why you get 5% moves in a matter of minutes,” one hedge fund chief says. “When there are sellers, there are few buyers, creating an air pocket down.” Of course, the volatility is only making everyone more skittish, reducing volume even more. “Yeah, of course it’s harder to trade,” says one hedge fund manager. “You can’t do things you used to be able to do four months ago.”